The Texas Rangers, winners of their last three and four of five, saw an offensive outburst on Friday night lead by Prince Fielder. In last night’s game Fielder, as has been the case since Mitch Moreland came off the disabled list, was the Rangers’ DH, where his numbers on the season are dramatically better compared to when he plays first. As a DH, Fielder is batting .352 with six homers and twenty rbi in 125 at bats on the season. Manning first, he’s still productive but there is a definite drop in production as shown by his .297 average, one home run and seven driven in over 37 at bats.
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The power numbers shouldn’t be a focal point here, but instead Prince’s batting average which is 55 points higher when he’s not playing the field. While Fielder has been hitting for average since the beginning of the season, it wasn’t until recently that he’s been driving the ball over the fence. Six of his seven homers have come in May, with five of those shots coming in the last eleven games. Over this stretch, the slugger has driven in 13 runs and has recorded a hit in every game but Thursday’s 3-1 win in Boston.
Shin-Soo Choo has provided production at the top of the lineup for most of this month, but Friday night Delino DeShields Jr. was in the leadoff position and the Rangers put up ten in the Bronx. While this may be a big coincidence, here is more food for thought: Since the team moved DeShields up in the lineup against Cleveland, slotting him either first or second, they are 4-1. The one loss was to Cleveland on Jason Kipnis‘ dramatic game-winning home run. The one loss the Rangers have since that game, Elvis Andrus was slotted second behind Shin-Soo Choo, making the Rangers 4-2 in their last six.
Bringing this all back to Prince Fielder’s home run stroke, with those two atop the order Fielder should see more pitches to hit, especially with the speed that DeShields possess on the basepaths. Batting first, Choo has a .315 batting average, while DeShields is batting just .231 batting second. Yet, that .231 mark is still above Rangers two-hole hitters mark on the season of .191, while leadoff hitters are batting a cumulative .260, including Choo’s high mark. Men on base with the team’s big slugger at the plate should lead to some meaty mistake pitches for Fielder to feast on.
Add in Mitch Moreland and his propensity for the long ball (three homers in five games) a little lower in the order, and this Texas Rangers lineup should continue to produce as long as the top of the order keeps setting the table. What further helps the Rangers is that both Moreland and Fielder are among the team leaders in both home runs and batting average. If Josh Hamilton is able to produce a bit at the dish when he returns next week, Texas could be looking at a very formidable offense with a decent enough pitching staff to cause some trouble for other teams as the dog days of summer approach.